Moms everywhere have a shared sense of solidarity in our quest to figure out how to teach our children at home during this global pandemic. None of us ever expected we’d find ourselves in this situation and based on what I’m hearing from my friends and seeing over social media, many are feeling overwhelmed and underqualified.
Sure, we are excellent at loving our kiddos and mothering them but teaching them is totally different. I find my oldest gets instantly irritated when I try to correct her during a period of instruction. My youngest struggles to focus and it seems hit or miss if he is even willing to engage.
With one week of School@Home complete, or Wox Academy as we are calling it, I am realizing a key to sustainable success – and a happy home – is balancing strategy with spontaneity.
Our local school system and the kid’s teachers have been fantastic about sending home ideas, resources and materials to use with our children! They are also using apps and technology to check in and stay connected with us while we are all still in the throes of social distancing. I find that these plans are a great starting point for figuring out how to make this unexpected season of homeschooling work. However, even with all these great plans, I have to be flexible in response to what lesson or material resonates with my kids, at any given moment.
Today is a great example! When the day started I could tell my oldest, Harper, was bored and unsure what to do with herself. She is highly relational so social distancing is requiring major adjustments. In order to provide direction for her day, I pulled out activity suggestions we received from her teacher. One suggestion was to create a board game and that seemed like a promising suggestion! Come to find out, it was just what she needed and the activity held Harper’s attention for over two hours, with a brief break for lunch.
Harper is obsessed with foxes and her game was of course themed around these furry woodland creatures. In her game, each player is on a mission to make it back from the farmer’s house, where they recently stole a chicken, to the fox den. Each player draws a card, which tells them what number of spaces to advance. If the fox lands on a challenge space (“?”) they draw a challenge card, that will either advance the player forward towards the den or require a backwards move towards the farmer’s house. The first player to make it to the den is the winner!
As she came up with her game concept I pulled up fox facts and we discussed information about her favorite animal. Not only did we learn about the diet of a fox and the predators they must guard against, we segued into topics of deforestation and the role humans have in ensuring foxes can live happy and healthy lives. We used the facts we learned to create the “challenge cards” that either help the player advance or result in backward movement on the game board.
With quick thinking and a mind for maximizing on the opportunity, it pivoted from strictly a fun artistic opportunity into an environmental science learning experience. There are elements of strategy in how I interacted with Harper and there was a whole lot of spontaneity. I allowed the activity to be the backdrop for learning and we both really enjoyed the experience.
One of the best parts was how Harper allowed me to contribute to her creation too! Instead of feeling frustrated with my help she welcomed my thoughts and asked for suggestions along the way. I got to be the one to craft our fox game pieces out of air-dry clay and helped her come up with our challenge cards, that are a critical part to the game.
My key takeaways from today’s experience are:
- It will take trial and error to find learning opportunities that really land well.
- We need to have a plan but also a willingness to quickly pivot – strategy and spontaneity will serve us well!
- Once we see excitement for learning we should maximize on that moment.
- School@Home has hardships but is a blessing and opportunity to interact with our children in new and meaningful ways.
- Our teachers are absolutely incredible! After attempting to teach at home over the last week I’m more aware than ever of the expertise and love they bring to the classroom each and every day.